Hartwig Hirschfeld

Hartwig Hirschfeld MRAS (Hebrew: נַפְתָּלִי הַארְטְוִויג בֵּן אַהֲרֹן הִירְשְׁפֵלְד; 18 December 1854 – 10 January 1934) was a Prussian-born British Orientalist, bibliographer, and educator. His particular scholarly interest lay in Arabic Jewish literature and in the relationship between Jewish and Arab cultures.[2] He is best known for his editions of Judah Halevi's Kuzari—which he published in its original Judeo-Arabic and in Hebrew, German and English translations—and his studies on the Cairo Geniza.[3][4]

Hartwig Hirschfeld
Born(1854-12-18)18 December 1854
Died10 January 1934(1934-01-10) (aged 79)
Pauline Loewe
(m. 1890; died 1929)
ChildrenLouis Hirschfeld (1893–1898)[1]
Rosamund Hirschfeld (b. 1895)
Beatrice Amelie Hirschfeld (b. 1897)
Dorothy Hirschfeld
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Strasburg
ThesisJüdische elemente im Ḳorân: Ein beitrag zur Ḳorânforschung (1878)
Doctoral advisorTheodor Nöldeke
Academic work
InstitutionsJudith Lady Montefiore College
Jews' College
University College London
Main interestsOriental studies


Hartwig Hirschfeld was born to a Jewish family in Thorn, Prussia. His father, Dr. Aron Hirschfeld, was a rabbi from Dirschau, and his maternal grandfather was the distinguished rabbi Salomon Plessner.[5] After graduating from the Royal Marien Gymnasium in Posen, Hirschfeld studied Oriental languages and philosophy and the University of Berlin, at the same time attending lectures at Azriel Hildesheimer's Rabbiner-Seminar.[6] He received his doctorate from the University of Strasburg in 1878 and, after a year's compulsory service in the Prussian Army, he obtained a travelling scholarship in 1882 which enabled him to study Arabic and Hebrew at Paris under Joseph Derenbourg.[7]

After teaching in Posen for a few years, Hirschfeld immigrated to England in 1889, where he became professor of Biblical exegesis, Semitic languages, and philosophy at the Montefiore College.[7] In 1901, he was invited by the Syndicate of Cambridge University to examine the Arabic fragments in the Taylor-Schechter collection.[6] That same year, he was appointed librarian and professor of Semitic languages at Jews' College, a position he occupied until 1929. At the same time, he became a lecturer in Semitic epigraphy at University College London in 1903, a lecturer in Ethiopic in 1906, and full professor and Goldsmid Lecturer in Hebrew there in 1924.


Hirschfeld's publications include a German translation of Judah Halevi's Kuzari, relying on the Arabic original (1885); a critical edition of the Arabic text and the Hebrew translation by Judah ibn Tibbon (1887); an English translation (1905), of which a revised edition appeared in 1932;[8] Arabic Chrestomathy in Hebrew Characters (1892); the Al-Sab'iniyya, an Arabic philosophic poem by Musa ibn Tubi (1894); Beiträge zur Erklärung des Koran (1886), elaborated into New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of the Koran (1902); the Hebrew translation of the Book of Definitions by Isaac Israeli (1896); Yefet ben Ali's commentary on the Book of Nahum (1911); Sketch of Hebrew Grammar (1913); Qirqisānī Studies (1918); An Ethiopic-Falasi Glossary (1921); Commentary on Deuteronomy (1925); and Literary History of Hebrew Grammarians and Lexicographers (1926). Among his bibliographical writings are a Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew MSS. of the Montefiore Library (1904). Hirschfeld also contributed articles to numerous periodicals, most notably a series of essays on the Arabic fragments in the Cairo Geniza in the Jewish Quarterly Review (1903–1908).[9]


  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainJacobs, Joseph; Emanuel, Victor Rousseau (1904). "Hirschfeld, Hartwig". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. 6. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 420.

  1. ^ "Communal Announcements". The Jewish World. 17 June 1898.
  2. ^ Rubinstein, William D.; Jolles, Michael A.; Rubinstein, Hillary L., eds. (2011). The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 429. ISBN 978-0-230-30466-6. OCLC 793104984.
  3. ^ "Hirschfeld, Hartwig". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  4. ^ Spector, Shmuel; Wigoder, Geoffrey, eds. (2001). "Torun (I)". The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust. 3. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem. p. 1316. ISBN 978-0-8147-9378-7.
  5. ^ Brocke, Michael; Carlebach, Julius, eds. (2004). Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit in den deutschen, böhmischen und großpolnischen Ländern 1781–1871 [Rabbis of the Emancipation Era in the German, Bohemian and Greater Polish Territories, 1781–1871]. Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner (in German). Munich: De Gruyter. p. 447. ISBN 978-3-11-023232-5. OCLC 644583327.
  6. ^ a b Harris, Isidore (1906). History of Jews' College: November 11th 1855 – November 10th 1905. London: Luzac & Co. pp. 112–116.
  7. ^ a b Gaster, Moses (1935). "Obituary Notices: Dr. Hartwig Hirschfeld". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 67 (1): 229–230. doi:10.1017/S0035869X0008391X. ISSN 1356-1863.
  8. ^ Kohler, George Y. (2016). "The Captivating Beauty of the Divine Spark—Breslau and the Reception of Yehuda Halevi's Sefer Kuzari (1877–1911)". Transversal: Journal for Jewish Studies. Walter de Gruyter GmbH. 14 (1): 26–34. doi:10.1515/tra-2016-0004. ISSN 2391-7385.
  9. ^ Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred, eds. (2007). "Hirschfeld, Hartwig". Encyclopaedia Judaica. 9 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. p. 137–138.

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